Dentist with patient at hospital

What to Expect at a New Patient Exam

When you switch to a new dental clinic, you may be surprised to find out you can’t just transfer dental records from your previous dentist.

In order to make sure that you are getting the best care, it is important that your new dentist completes a full, comprehensive exam.

Why Can’t My Previous Dentist Just Transfer My Records?

Your previous dentist can forward your x-rays and detailed notes of treatments that you’ve received, but your new dentist is responsible for completing an independent set of diagnoses. The notes from your previous dentist may not be enough to complete the big picture of your overall health.

If your dentist is in Ontario, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario – the licensing body of dentistry – requires each dentist to conduct a complete examination of every new patient before determining what type of treatments should be done.

What is Included in the New Patient Exam?

Different dental offices may have their own version of the exam, but there must be consistency for every patient treated.

When you visit Dr. Stevens, you will be given a clear outline of what the new patient exam consists of so that there are no surprises. The dental hygienist will complete the first five steps of the exam and it will typically take up to 45 minutes. If you are considering visiting the office, here is what you can expect:

  1. A review of your medical history: this is important because your dentist needs to know if you are healthy. If you have been diagnosed with an unstable medical condition, you may need a consultation with your physician prior to starting treatment. The hygienist will also record your baseline blood pressure and note that in your chart.
  2. A review of your past dental history: We want to hear about your past dental experiences from you. This will help you get the best possible care.
  3. A complete series of dental radiographs: This step will help to identify any problem areas in your mouth. Using digital x-rays, the dental hygienist will take between 10 and 18 dental radiographs to ensure that nothing is hidden. If your previous dentist is able to transfer diagnostic quality x-rays, this portion of the exam can be skipped. A full series of x-rays done with digital radiographs has about 70% less radiation than film-based dental radiographs.
  4. Intra-oral photographs: You know the saying “a picture is worth 1000 words”? That is especially true here. You will have a picture of your mouth taken with a digital camera so that the team can record the appearance of your mouth when you first become a patient. These photos are used for documentation, diagnoses, and for patient education.
  5. Examination and recording of dental conditions: This is where issues with gum tissue health, restorative health, occlusal (biting and/or chewing) health, and aesthetics are discovered. Each screening is done objectively and the risk for pathology or disease in each of the previously mentioned areas is noted.

The rest of the examination process is conducted by Dr. Andrea Stevens. She will spend 30 minutes with you reviewing your x-rays and photographs while discussing her findings and educating you about your overall oral health and any recommended treatments.

After meeting with Dr. Stevens, you will meet with the dental hygienist to undergo periodontal therapy which can take 30 to 45 minutes. This will complete the two hour appointment. If there is not enough time to complete the periodontal therapy, you may be rescheduled in order to complete it.

If you want to understand your overall dental health better than ever before, contact Dr. Andrea Stevens today.

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